Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I rocked Metro!

I did it! Reading at Metro might have been the scariest thing I've ever done in my life, but I did it! I spent all weekend full of anxiety, but when I finally walked on stage, I did it with confidence. I told myself, I deserve to be here, and I have to work the stage like I deserve it and I think I actually pulled it off! So thank you to all of you who sent me comments and messages of encouragement. It meant a lot to me and helped me muster up the necessary confidence. So here is the story of the night in photos.

The first thing we saw when we arrived was this:
My name on the Metro marquee. Holy crap, I can't even begin to express my excitement! I never ever thought I'd see it up there where I'd seen the names of all my favorite bands. So, Scott and I went in. There was a little confusion as to who we should talk to and for a moment they acted like Scott couldn't come in with me, but it quickly got straightened out. We waited in the hallway until the backstage area was ready. Bill Hillmann, the other reader and his wife came in and it was such a relief to see them because Bill was clearly as nervous as me, but also just as excited. It was good to hang out with someone who was feeling the same way. We tried to get over our nerves by snapping pictures of things with our names on it. Like the schedule:

And these flyers:

Then we explored the backstage area and walked on the stage where so many of our idols have played and of course posed for pictures.

Irvine showed up while we were hanging out on stage. We went downstairs with him to the backstage area where there was cold Stella Artois waiting for us (and the backstage manager was nice enough to get me some drink tickets since I'm not a beer drinker). We had a few beers and Irvine caught us up on his adventures on tour. He's always got wild stories to tell and the ability to make me laugh even when I'm scared shitless. Bill and I kinda sucked at keeping up our ends of the conversation though because we were both so nervous about going on.

I also got to meet Joe Shanahan, the owner of the Metro. Meeting Joe was like meeting a rock star. I'm so grateful to that man because his venue was my home away from home during my teenage years. I can't count how many Metro shows I've been to. I was trying to remember which was my first and thinking it was Beck, but I looked at my scrapbook filled with ticket stubs today and discovered it was Urge Overkill. Anyway, I think another thing that gave me confidence was the conversation Joe and I had before I went on. He told me how much he enjoyed the book and really felt like he was right there in the story. He also told me how River's Edge reminded him of the really early days of Metro when he was just having local punk bands like Articles of Faith. It just really gave me a surge of pride to know that my little punk book had impressed a true music connoisseur like Joe!

They ended up switching up how they were going to do things at the last minute and decided to just do music before and after the readings and have the three of us read right in a row, introduced by my former professor and another author I hugely admire, Don DeGrazia. Bill went on first and I watched from the side of the stage, which was a totally cool experience in and of itself, but also it just helped me build up my strength to go on even more to watch this guy who I'd spent the past hour being totally nervous with just own the stage. He read a short piece and then he did another completely improv, just telling the audience the story. It was freakin' amazing. I was so impressed and proud.

But when he walked off, I knew that I was moments away from going on. I reminded myself for the last time, that I deserved to be out there. That Irvine and Joe thought my book was good enough for me to be there. I also knew that my friends were up in the balcony to my left and they would be laughing at the right places and cheering for me. The crowd wasn't too huge since it was a Sunday night and Chicago had been in a state of torrential downpour all weekend, but I knew there were about 150 people out there. The beauty of it was that when I stepped into the spotlight, I realized I really couldn't see beyond the front row. That totally helped. I just pretended I was reading for about ten people and my friends up in the balcony and I read as I had been practicing. I really try to read from inside of the story when I read. I try to become Emily and use her inflections and emphasize certain words and lines the way I meant for them to sound when I wrote them. One of my regulars at the Beacon told me a couple days ago that that was what had really brought him into my story when I did my reading at the release party at the Beacon. "Just read your heart out like you did then and you'll be fine," he reassured me. I took that to heart and I was. I'd never gotten so much applause in my life. I can't tell you what a rush it was!

Scott took some pictures of me while I was reading, but they are a little dark and blurry because I guess he didn't want to use flash. The first one he took from the side of the stage and the others from the balcony:

We also took this picture of Irvine from the balcony while he read an excerpt from his new novel Crime. It's such a moving story. I bought the book and had him sign it while we were signing together and I can't wait to delve into it.Yeah, I also felt like such a rock star sitting beside Irvine Welsh and signing my book. Of course he signed twice as many books as I did, but the dude is a hero. I was just elated to be there and to have people coming up to me, telling me I did an awesome job and they were so excited to read my book. The Metro also had us sign a bunch of posters which they'll be auctioning off for charity at some point.

And they gave me four of the posters! I'll be getting one framed of course and giving one to my mom, but I imagine at least one will end up as a contest prize for a contest I run at some point. Of course I completely spaced on having Bill and Irvine sign my posters, but I'll see them both in a couple of weeks so hopefully I'll remember then.

I've gotta say that I've honestly never felt so good about myself and like I really am accomplished as a writer as I did right after Metro. It continued on to the next day too because I spent my afternoon yesterday at Columbia doing their Fiction Writers at Lunch event. It was so amazing to be the one giving the presentation when only three years ago I would have been watching it as a student. I could tell that I truly inspired some of the students and that really meant the world to me because I want all the creative people out there to acheive their dreams. Also one girl told me that my book photo didn't do me justice and I am totally gorgeous. As the girl who has always felt like an ugly duckling, that just made my day too.

So yeah, now it is time to pour some of this energy into my writing! But before I go, I just want to remind you that it's your last chance to enter to win a Gits cd by commenting on last week's Women Who Rock Wednesday blog. Also I did a couple more great interviews so go check them out on Angel Young's blog and Book Review Maniac!

1 comment:

Keri Mikulski said...

What an amazing experience. Great stuff, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing.